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Smith Takes Reins as DoD's First Education Chancellor

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 1998 – Jerome "Jerry" F. Smith Jr. was sworn in Oct. 2 as DoD's first chancellor for education and professional development, with a mandate to provide world-class educational programs for civilian employees.

Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre administered the oath of office. "DoD has to invest more in our professionals," Hamre said. "How we do that -- what ways and how much -- is still an open question. It's going to be Dr. Smith's responsibility to guide us on that."

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said the ceremony celebrated the beginning of a new era in DoD's education of its civilian work force. "Over the years we've put a lot of focus on training our service members and officers and the rewards have been immeasurable," he said. "We now have to put the same emphasis on developing the skills of the 730,000 civilians who serve this department."

Calling Smith's appointment another milestone in the Defense Reform Initiative, Cohen said DoD's strength and security of the nation hinges civilian employees to realize their full potential. Expressing full confidence that the chancellor will be "a vigorous and visionary guiding hand on matters of civilian education," Cohen said Smith is "uniquely suited" to lead the effort.

Since November 1995, Smith had been dean of the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. A 1961 Naval Academy graduate, Smith earned his master's and his doctorate from Stanford University. After 34 years of commissioned service, he retired in 1995 as a rear admiral, while serving as commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, also at NDU.

In his new position, Smith is the principal advocate for the academic quality and cost-effectiveness of all DoD institutions and programs that provide higher education and professional development training for civilian employees.

"I've personally benefited from the emphasis the U.S. military places on education and lifelong learning for career development," Smith said. He said he has been in the military education system since signing up in 1957 as a midshipman. "That's one of the neat things about the professional military education system -- it's a lifelong process.

"The military education system serves as a good model of the kind of quality education system we would like to have for our civilians," Smith said. "This includes regular returns to school and opportunities for continuous educational development. World- class companies do that, and we're competing with them for the best people."

Last year, DoD spent about $200 million on education and professional development for DoD civilian employees, not including incidental or in-service training. According to DoD statistics for fiscal 1997, more than 55,000 civilian employees received some form of post-secondary education or professional development from a DoD-sponsored institution. Another 20,000 participated in educational and professional development programs in non-DoD institutions.

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